Who Will Tame the Giants? An Investigation of Principalities and Powers in the Digital Age

Article by Lars Öberg in Scandinavian Journal for Leadership & Theology.

Abstract: This article investigates tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter in the light of the Pauline concepts of principalities and powers. It is argued that as people subjugate themselves to the digital frameworks of these modern giants, the way they perceive and interact with the world changes. The tech giants, similarly to the giants of mythology, constitute the very “place” where we, as users of the internet, are standing. The study argues that individuals who live their lives according to the frameworks of these modern-day principalities become participating members of the giants’ bodies and are thus influenced by their telos. As people increasingly access the world through these placeless platforms, and thereby giving sustenance to the principalities’ hollow bodies, their own existence becomes more and more disembodied. As modernity recedes, this kind of excarnation seems to have an accelerating effect on the shift in people’s worldview. The world which is formed by the tech giants’ frameworks is found to be less embodied and quite polytheistic. In a final discussion whether it is possible to exorcise or redeem these online principalities and powers the concept of egregore, or shared thought-form, is introduced. It is described how online activists try to manipulate these egregores through the reshaping of viral narratives by means of so-called “meme-magic”. It is concluded, however, that any attempt by the church to exorcise the demonic egregores on their home turf seem to necessitate a participation in the tech giants’ hollow bodies, which in turn might result in a sort of excarnation. A word of warning is therefore given against over-estimating one’s capacity to tame the tech giants through any form of social exorcism or political action.

The Spirit of Modernity and its Fate

Article by Ragnar Misje Bergem in Modern Theology.

This article presents an interpretation of the rise of theological genealogies as a response to the sense in modern theology that modernity is a fate. It suggests that theologians began to write genealogies to ease this sense that modernity is an inescapable condition. While it recognises that some of these genealogies have been partly successful in this endeavour, it also points out how a number of genealogies repeat some of the problematics they sought to escape. Finally, it provides some rudimentary reflections on how a theological engagement with history might be done better.

Henrik Steffens 250 år

‘Henrik Steffens 250 år: NATUR | ÅND’. Conference on Henrik Steffens in Oslo 2. may.

ÅPENT SYMPOSIUM: Henrik Steffens 250 år
Henrik Steffens (1773-1845) er en nøkkelfigur for å forstå naturtenkningen i den romantiske perioden i Norden, som også har preget hvordan vi oppfatter naturen. Steffens var en inspirerende og grenseoverskridende tenker: geolog og filosof, teolog og dikter. Inspirert av Schellings naturfilosofi og tidlig industrialisering ønsket han å la naturen komme til orde på sine egne premisser:

«Jeg ønsket å vise hvordan naturen, ikke bare i sin helhet, men også i sine enkeltheter, kan forstås på sine egne premisser.»
Den 2. mai inviterer UiO:Norden, MF og ECODISTURB til åpent symposium om Steffens og vår tid. Henrik Steffens ble født i Stavanger 2. mai 1773 og vokste opp med en norsk mor og tysk far. Hans tenkning og virker forbinder Norge, Danmark og Tyskland og åpner for nye refleksjoner omkring sammenhengen mellom natur og ånd i en tid preget av klimakrise, akselerasjon og naturtap, en epoke som går under navnet antropocen.

To mark 250 years since his birth, the UiO:NORDIC project ECODISTURB are organizing a workshop on the life, work and thought of Henrik Steffens (1773-1845).

Henrik Steffens is a key thinker in the early Romantic period, drawing on Schelling’s reaction to Kantian abstraction and the early industrialization. In his Naturphilosophie (Philosophy of nature), developed from 1799 to 1810, he intends to let nature speak with its own voice, by giving expression to its self-reflection: “I wanted to show how nature, not only as a whole, but also in its particularities, can be conceived of in its own terms.”

This workshop is dedicated to thinking with Steffens today: in a time of rapidly deteriorating biomes, what resources, challenges and possibilities is thrown up by his philosophy of nature? The symposium is held in Norwegian.

Kom og hør
Helge Jordheim (Kulturhistorie, UiO)
Marie-Theres Federhofer (Tysk og kulturstudier, UiT)
Tollef Graff Hugo (Religionsfilosofi, MF)
Otfried Czaika (Kirke- og kulturhistorie, MF)
Jesper Lundsfryd Rasmussen (Naturhistorie, Københavns Universitet)
Thomas Hylland Eriksen (Antropologi, UiO)
Marius Timmann Mjaaland (Filosofi og teologi, UiO)
Lars Eivind Augland (Mineralogi, UiO)
Simone Kotva (Teologi og miljøetikk, UiO)

0900 Fremmøte

0915 Velkommen. Hilsener

0930 Helge Jordheim: : Akselerasjon og dyp tid: Steffens’ naturhistoriske øyeblikk og vårt eget

1000 Marie-Theres Federhofer: : Jordas Bildungsgeschichte. Geoantropologi hos Henrik Steffens

1030 Samtale

1100 Pause

1115 Tollef Graff Hugo: Henrik Steffens om universitetets idé; Otfried Czaika: Steffens syn på lutherdomen – några anmärkningar; Jesper Lundsfryd Rasmussen: Totalitet og anerkendelse af naturen. En udfordring til diskussionen af det antropocæne fra Henrik Steffens

1230 Pause

1315 Thomas Hylland Eriksen: Overoppheting og nedkjøling – et ulykkelig ekteskap. Om tidsregimer og skalakollisjoner

1345 Marius Timmann Mjaaland: To tidsaldre: Ånden, naturen og det nye mennesket

1415 Samtale

1445 Kaffe

1500 Lars Eivind Augland: Neptunsk geognosi, kjemi og oryctognosi: Steffens’ plass i en gryende geovitenskap; Simone Kotva: Natur och andlighet i Antropocen

1530 Samtale om Steffens og vår tid

1600 Avslutning

Categorized as Events

Religion and Nature conference

Nordic Society for Philosophy of Religion conference June 5 – June 7, Oslo.

With the latest reports from UN Panels on loss of nature and biodiversity (2022) and human impact on climate change (IPCC 2021-22), the question of religion and nature is again highly topical in philosophy, theology and religious studies. Christian, indigenous and other religious responses to ontology, ethics and cosmology have received new attention and encourages scholars to reconsider their understanding of philosophy and religion in the broad sense.

The conference topic, Religion and Nature, is deliberately kept wide in order to include as many contributions as possible. It is also timely, given the present and precarious situation of the planet. We aim at accomodating as many presentations as possible, including senior scholars, PhD Students and other researchers on Postdoc and even MA level.

Call for paper: Please submit an abstract (250 words) by 15th of April to Atle O Søvik

Confirmed keynote speakers include Kevin Schilbrack (USA), Jan-Olav Henriksen (NO), Elena Kamlykova (SE), Sigridur Gudmarsdottir (IS) and Marius T. Mjaaland (NO).

There will be lectures, short papers and presentations from ongoing work. We welcome analytic as well as pragmatic and phenomenological (and possibly other) approaches. We will emphasize joint meals, good atmosphere, and possibly a discussion of how we may strengthen the field of Philosophy of Religion in the future, cooperate on PhD courses or even write an application for NordForsk or ERC.

The University of Oslo, Faculty of Theology, and MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion, and Society are hosting the conference with support from ReNEW.

Deadline for submission of proposals for paper: April 15, 2023.
Abstracts up to 250 words. Reading length 20 minutes
Program (premiminary) (pdf)
Information on accommodation possibilities will follow.
We hope to avoid a conference fee.
Preliminary Program

Monday, June 5th
Venue: Professorboligen, Central Campus, University of Oslo

1500: Registration and Welcome.
1600: Opening: Mjaaland and Henriksen
1615: Keynote I: Professor Kevin Schilbrack, Appalachian State University, US
1715: Response and plenary discussion
1830: Reception
Tuesday, June 6th.
Venue: Tøyen Hovedgård (easily accessible by the tube).

0900: Keynote II: Professor Jan-Olav Henriksen, MF: On the need to eliminate two prevailing concepts in the religious discourse on nature
0945: Response and plenary discussion
1030: Coffee break
1100: Paper session I
1230: Lunch
1330: Keynote III: Dr. Elena Kalmykova, Uppsala University: Worship of nature, worship of God: stemming from the same root and rational
1415: Response and plenary discussion
1500: Coffe break
1630: Paper Session II
1730: Group discussion on selected topics
1900: Transfer to conference dinner
1930: Conference dinner
Wednesday June 7th.
Venue: Tøyen Hovedgård

0900: Keynote IV: Prof. Sigridur Gudmarsdottir, University of Iceland: Driftwood Jesus: Theorizing Arctic Religion and Nature
0945: Response and plenary discussion
1030: Coffee break
1100: Paper session III
1230: Lunch
1330: Keynote V: Professor Marius T. Mjaaland, University of Oslo
1415: Response and plenary discussion
1500: Closing discussion: Information about ongoing research and activities. Future work and cooperation.
1600: Closing of the conference.
Jan-Olav Henriksen, Marius T. Mjaaland, Atle O. Søvik

Categorized as Events

At the End of the World

The research program At the End of the World: A Transdisciplinary Approach to the Apocalyptic Imaginary in the Past and Present has now begun. Funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and led by Jayne Svenungsson, Professor of Systematic Theology at the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, the program’s 22-person research team bridges historical and contemporary studies of apocalyptic ideas and images. You can find the newly launched website for the program at https://www.endoftheworld.lu.se/ where you can see a list of recent publications or subscribe to the program’s newsletter. If you have any questions about At the End of the World, you can write to the program secretary Aaron James Goldman at aaron.goldman@ctr.lu.se.

Categorized as Other

The Realisation of I-we

Article by Andreas Masvie in The Heythrop Journal.


Ever since Plato, a tragic conception of the human self has been the point de depart of moral and political philosophy: the I and the we belong to one another yet oppose each other. Ancients such as Aristotle contended that the we is ontologically prior and moderns such as Hobbes that the I is ontologically prior. I make the case that Jesus Christ realised an ontology which collapses this dichotomy: the human self is neither I nor we, but fundamentally I-we. I demonstrate that this is an ontology of gift-dynamics, made explicit in the mythical complex of the cult centring on Jesus Christ, and engraved unto this cult’s heart through ritual.

Religious pluralism and the challenge of relativism

Article by Catherine Cornille in Studia Theologica

This article deals with the various challenges of relativism when engaging with the reality of religious diversity in teaching and research. The richness of the teachings and practices of various religious traditions, combined with an acute awareness of the contingency of one’s own religious identity have made it more than ever difficult to argue for the importance or relevance of commitment to a particular religious tradition. I argue that an open and honest engagement with other religious traditions from a confessional perspective offers the most promising alternative to either a classical theological engagement with the resources of only one religious tradition on the one hand, or a neutral comparison of religions on the other. The field of comparative theology offers such middle ground which allows for a genuine openness toward other religious traditions while remaining grounded in the normative teachings of a particular religion. This field offers new approaches to both teaching and research in the area of religious diversity.

They are humans and our fellow citizens!

Article by Merethe Roos in Studia Theologica.

They are humans and our fellow citizens! Protestant theology and Jews in the Danish Enlightenment: examples from Balthasar Münter’s sermons

This article thematizes how Jews are portrayed in the Danish theologian Balthasar Münter’s sermons. Münter served as a preacher in German St. Petri congregation in Copenhagen between 1765 and 1793, and left a great number of texts to posterity. Previous scholarship has argued that in one of his sermons, Münter seems to take a more positive view of the Jews than what was common in his day. This sermon was used to defend the rights of Jews in the Jewish Literary Feud in 1813. However, in this article I will argue that Münter’s positive attitude is shaped by his theological views and can be seen as a consequence of certain characteristics of enlightenment theology, rather than a genuine expression of tolerance towards religious minorities. In the article, I will argue that Münter demonstrated the same antisemitic attitudes that characterize the texts of his contemporaries, such as the well-known court preacher Christian Bastholm. Bastholm, who wrote a three-volume work on the Jews and who mentioned the Jews and Judaism in a number of contexts, refers to the Jews as an evil people who killed their prophets and stoned their sages. Nevertheless, Münter’s openness points to fundamental characteristics of protestant theology.

Christian theology as comparative theology: Towards a radical change of “Method”

Editorial article by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen.


This essay makes a recommendation for an expansion in the approach and “method” of Christian theology: it proposes Christian theology as comparative theology. In the religiously pluralistic world, it is not sufficient merely to engage other faith traditions as an “auxiliary task.” Rather, the comparative task should belong to the “normal” way of doing “basic” Christian theological work. While Christian theology is not subsumed under comparative theology, as it were, the essay argues that without the comparative task, Christian theology may fail its calling in the third millennium.

Kristendom og politikk i Skandinavia på 1800-talet

Article by Morten Øveraas in Teologisk tidsskrift

Kristendom og politikk i Skandinavia på 1800-talet – nokre historiografiske utfordringar, tendensar og politisk-teologiske refleksjonar

Christianity and politics in Scandinavia in the nineteenth century – some historiographical challenges, tendencies, and political-theological reflections

The article presents and discusses some historiographical challenges, tendencies, and political-theological reflections on the relationship between Christianity and politics in Scandinavia in the nineteenth century. How should rational science understand and describe actors with beliefs in metaphysical phenomena? The article reviews the state of the art in considering this problem and the following matters: 1) How Lutheran Christianity influenced the political cultures in Scandinavia; 2) The impact of priests, the Bible, and religious minorities. I suggest that persistent and indistinct intersections between politics and theology must be included and analysed as a potential explanatory factor in historiographical and social research. Political-theological actions should be understood on their own terms but be examined on rational-scientific grounds to formulate empirically grounded theories.